Although Jay Leno and Corporal Ethan Laberge are separated by profession and life experience, the unlikely pair found a common interest in automobiles, which sparked a fast friendship.
According to the IJ Review, Leno, 64, first met Laberge on the Today Show. That is where he learned that Laberge had been on a foot patrol in Afghanistan when a suicide bomber drove up and detonated a device, seriously injuring Laberge and killing two of his comrades.
Laberge then embarked on the lengthy road to recovery from his injuries, which included serious shrapnel wounds to the legs and arms as well as a traumatic brain injury that has continually caused Laberge to have memory loss.
When Leno and Laberge first sat down to talk, Leno remarked how he meets a great deal of young veterans who are seemingly worlds apart due to their differing experiences and life circumstances.
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As a celebrity, it is difficult for the two parties to connect and find common ground.
But Leno said that when he discovered Laberge’s love for cars the conversation quickly got interesting, ending with Leno offering Laberge the chance to drive his 2015 Dodge SRT Hellcat.
Laberge quickly responded as any car enthusiast would, “Hell yeah!”
The two took a joyride along some of the back roads near Laberge’s army post. Upon returning to the base, Laberge couldn’t help but review the vehicle saying, “That was awesome … I wouldn’t mind having one of these.”
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Leno quickly responded, as only he could: “It’s yours. America loves you. Thank you, buddy. Have a lot of fun. Don’t get any tickets.”
Although Laberge couldn’t promise to follow Leno’s joking directions of not getting any tickets, the move is solid proof that genuine goodness is still left in the world. Not every veteran will have the opportunity to be individually thanked by a celebrity, but the overwhelming sentiment is that they should be thanked as many times as necessary for sacrificing their own lives in the line of duty.